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John Harvard's Journal

Gone Missing

July-August 2004

On June 18, 1903, on the occasion of Frederick Thayer's twenty-fifth reunion, his teammates presented him with the "first catcher's mask ever used in baseball," silvered for the occasion by the Boston firm of Bigelow, Kennard Co. The mask eventually came into the possession of the Harvard Varsity Club, where it reposed for many years in a display case in the club's reading room.

The mask appeared in the exhibit Athletics for All as part of Harvard's 350th anniversary celebration in 1986, according to Warren Little '55, curator in the department of athletics. But in the Varsity Club's two moves since then the mask has been lost. Although Little hopes the mask has merely been misplaced, he fears it may be "decorating some bar in Boston." If so, it is a very expensive wall ornament: Keith Vari of Leland's Sports Auction House, the country's leading sports memorabilia auctioneers, estimates the mask would bring $10,000 to $15,000 at auction.